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Campaign Whale calls for EU action to stop whaling

Campaign Whale Press Release

Thursday October 4th October – No Embargo
Whale protection organisation Campaign Whale and Green MEP Caroline Lucas today presented a 100,000 hand-signed petition to European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas in Brussels calling for urgent action to improve protection for whales and prevent the resumption of whaling. The petition calls for existing loopholes in EU legislation that permit whale killing, to be closed, to reflect overwhelming public concern.
A report produced by the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) for Campaign Whale last year exposed serious flaws in existing legislation intended to protect whales. They would permit the killing of whales for so-called ‘scientific’ and ‘fisheries management’ purposes – even in the ‘overriding public interest’, which might be used to justify whaling for ‘cultural’ or economic reasons. All these arguments are currently used by whalers to justify the ongoing slaughter of whales in defiance of international agreements. The petition calls for these loopholes to be closed and for a freestanding EU Regulation banning whaling forever.
The Campaign Whale/FIELD report also reveals, worryingly, that EU law for the protection of whales is inextricably linked to decisions made in other fora, such as the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Both of these fora are in danger of being overwhelmed by Japan’s so-called ‘vote-consolidation’ programme – the recruitment of pro-whaling votes through Development Aid packages - meaning vital protection measures could be overturned in the near future. Only last year, the whalers gained a voting majority at the IWC for the first time in over 20 years.
The situation becomes even more worrying with aggressive pro-whaling countries such as Norway and Iceland increasingly considering EU membership. Recent opinion polls in both countries suggest increasing support for membership. The question then arises whether existing EU legislation would require these countries to actually stop whaling. However, the existing legal loopholes make this unlikely.
Campaign Whale Director Andy Ottaway said
‘We want, and the public demands, that all whaling is banned and for whales to be protected forever under European Community law. With some EU countries now prepared to betray public opinion and compromise over the resumption of commercial whaling, it is more vital than ever that overwhelming public opinion opposing the cruel slaughter of whales is both heard and respected in Brussels’.
Campaign Whale is also calling for EU action against those countries that are currently killing whales by withdrawing preferential trade agreements over fisheries imports. Both Iceland and Norway are increasingly trying to justify whaling by spuriously claiming whales are a threat to commercial fish stocks. The United States has fisheries laws that link trade to conservation agreements so why not a European Marine Mammal Protection Act that does the same?
‘The EU has the power to stop the cruel slaughter of these wonderful and sadly threatened animals, its time it found the will. Iceland, Norway and the Faroes need to sell their fish to Europe far more than they need to kill whales. Our petition today is calling for the EU to stand up to the whalers and end this obscene industry forever.’
Editors Notes:
  • ‘Sanctuary for Whales’ – a call for urgent action to prevent the resumption of commercial whaling in Europe (2006) is available on request
  • Under existing derogations to the EU Habitats Directive whales can be killed for so-called ‘scientific’ or fisheries management purposes, or in the ‘overriding’ public interest.
  • Recent opinion polls in both Norway and Iceland suggest public opinion is moving in favour of EU membership.
  • The EU’s EFTA agreement allows preferential trade agreement on fisheries with Iceland, Norway and the Faroes, all notorious whale killing countries
  • Under the US’ Marine Mammal protection Act, trade sanctions can be taken against countries that violate international fisheries agreements such as the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling.